Post-Brexit border food checks delayed again

London, UK: The government is delaying Brexit border controls for food checks on EU imports again, blaming pandemic supply chain pressures for forcing its decision.

The government originally delayed the introduction of checks by six months from April 1 but now they have been pushed back again – to either January 2022 or July 2022.

The main changes are:
• The requirement for pre-notification of agri-food imports will be introduced on 1 January 2022 as opposed to 1 October 2021.
• Phytosanitary certificates and physical checks on SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary) goods at border control posts, due to be introduced on 1 January 2022, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022.
• The requirement for Safety and Security declarations on imports will be introduced as of 1 July 2022 as opposed to 1 January 2022.

The new requirements for export health certificates, which were due to be introduced on 1 October 2021, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022.

Brexit minister David Frost said: “There are pressures on global supply chains, caused by a wide range of factors including the pandemic and the increased costs of global freight transport. These pressures are being especially felt in the agrifood sector.

”We want businesses to focus on their recovery from the pandemic rather than have to deal with new requirements at the border, which is why we’ve set out a pragmatic new timetable for introducing full border controls, Businesses will now have more time to prepare for these controls which will be phased in throughout 2022. The Government remains on track to deliver the new systems, infrastructure and resourcing required”.

However, industry sources in customs have pointed out that the government’s infrastructure was not ready to impose full checks, including Dover and Holyhead. In August the government radically downgraded plans for the Dover Brexit customs clearance and food health checks lorry park. Instead of 1,200 lorries, the site is to accommodate just 96, with 20 extra spaces for reversing trucks, and take up just a quarter of the original space.

Sarah Laouadi, head of international policy, Logistics UK, said more delays heaps additional work to an industry already working at full stretch.

“The government has rightly identified some of the challenges currently facing the logistics industry, from the lasting impact of the pandemic to increasing maritime transport costs. These, as well as the river shortage, require vigorous and urgent attention. However, this second change of plan for import controls will add to the uncertainty and creates extra re-adjustment costs for the logistics industry.”

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In the August issue of Cold Chain News, out now, Gist reveals that it is offering incentives of up to £5,000 for HGV drivers to join its business from August in order to boost capability and resources to deliver chilled foods and fresh produce. bit.ly/3z6j8Si #coldchain

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